Olympics 2024: China badminton success assured but to what extent?

China was the only country to secure two spots in each of the five categories in Paris -- men's and women's singles and doubles as well as mixed doubles.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 09:13 IST

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London: Chinese success in Paris is virtually guaranteed with the likes of Chen Yufei leading the charge but high rankings do not necessarily translate into medals at the Olympics, where the pressure to perform is unlike any other competition.

The Tokyo Games three years ago delivered a series of dramatic upsets, near misses and high emotions -- from Guatemalan Kevin Cordon's stunning run to the semi-finals to the early exit of Japanese top seed Kento Momota.

Not one top-ranked player or pair won gold in Tokyo. In fact, in the men's singles and doubles and women's doubles, the favourites did not medal at all.

"China has the potential to win all five medals, but anything can happen at the Olympics," Charmaine Reid, who competed at the Athens Games in 2004, told Reuters.

"It's a different pressure at the Olympic Games for sure," the Canadian added. "I've seen some people go out that have never lost a match over the years and then, often, you know, lose in the second round."

China swept the board in London in 2012 but countries like India, Japan, Spain and Denmark started seriously challenging the status quo in Rio, where China won only two golds and a bronze.

That was their lowest haul at an Olympics for 20 years but the country rallied in Tokyo with six medals, including Chen's women's singles gold and Chen Long's men's singles silver.

Since Tokyo, Olympics men's singles gold medallist Viktor Axelsen of Denmark has, as world number one, shown repeatedly that he has the temperament to win on the biggest stage. Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Sinisuka Ginting from Indonesia and Malaysian shuttler Lee Zii Jia have also shown they can compete with the best, bagging silver and bronze at the 2024 Thomas Cup respectively.

In women's singles, South Korean An Se-young has smashed her way ahead of Chen in the world rankings to become number one.

In August, An became the first woman from her country to win singles world championships gold, beating two Olympic champions - Spain's Carolina Marin and Chen - en route to the title.

"She is amazing. She's right in the mix, absolutely," said Yuko Kawasaki, an American former player who now works with USA Badminton.

"Everybody is peaking before Paris -- you just don't know what will happen. Indonesia is a country that could possibly win a lot."

Still, China has won 47 medals since badminton became an Olympic sport in 1992 - more than double the combined tally of Indonesia and South Korea, the second and third most successful teams.

China was the only country to secure two spots in each of the five categories in Paris -- men's and women's singles and doubles as well as mixed doubles.

"China has always looked so good," Kawasaki added. "But sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time. It's the Olympics, it's different -- all those other tournaments happen year-in-year-out."

Published 08 July 2024, 09:13 IST

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